Mariah Carey’s now-21-year-old holiday anthem, “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” recently received a most appreciative write-up here at The A.V. Club, with Annie Zaleski praising the Spector-style pop tune as an enduring and endearing Yuletide tradition with many good years ahead of it. But Formeldeharv’s retro-styled Tumblr Snot, Spit And Tears! recently put the song to the ultimate endurance test to see whether it were still so charming after some radical reconstructive surgery. “I put ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ through a MIDI converter, and then back through an MP3 converter,” he writes. “The result is this garbage.” Said “garbage” is a half-mutilated, half-mutated digital instrumental that runs for nearly four agonizing, eardrum-punishing minutes. It sounds a bit like someone drunkenly playing the song on a tinny upright piano while a rambunctious kitten runs up and down the keys.
Rolling Stone once complained that Carey, as an acolyte of Whitney Houston, “won’t walk when she can cartwheel.” That accusation is somewhat borne out by this deliberately wretched conversion, in which the MIDI converter struggles to turn Carey’s famous, superhuman miasmatic vocal runs into actual, transcribable notes and mostly ends up producing chaos and clatter instead of music. The effect is enhanced somewhat by a perfunctory but effective video with a flickering, distorted image of Carey’s Merry Christmas album, looking a bit like an old-fashioned 3-D movie without the red-and-blue glasses. And yet, after a few listens, even this version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” tends to grow on the listener, rather like mold on wet carpeting. The song’s joyous infectiousness, if not its melody, actually survives this hideous makeover.